by Nick Ercolano
June 14, 2019
Wide Receiver Rankings by Tiers
Have a big fact, that I will answer later on in the show, but I want you to comment your guess first. Albert Wilson stat
Davante Adams and D-Hop are no brainers in my opinion in this elite tier. Could care less who you take as WR1. I tried to find Vegas odds on WR numbers but couldn't find any up-to-date, so if anyone has any good websites for finding Vegas odds - hook me up. I want to see what the league-leader odds are for receiving yards and TDs. I'd imagine Adams is the favorite for TDs, Hopkins maybe 2nd in every category, probably #2 in yards behind Julio. I actually might be moving Adams up a bit. Shit, we coming right out of the gate firing with the big facts:
So Adams ranked 3rd in the NFL with a 28.7% market share, you think of him as a dominant possession receiver, but he's also great downfield: he caught 5 passes of 40+ yards (t-7th most in the NFL), but for one:
Adams for president 2020, think I just sold myself on Adams as WR1 for 2019 good-day.
Also, sorry, just another fun fact, it ain't even fun tbh it's kind of concerning, look at this:
[Insert Tweet] about Kupp + Alb Wilson
I ain't really go a good excuse as to why Julio Jones is in this tier and not the first one, coming of an NFL-leading 10 games of 100+ receiving yards and 1677 overall receiving yards. Yes, the touchdowns are a concern, for sure, he had eight last year, Hopkins and Adams are basically locks for double-dig TDs. I'm actually embarrassed how long I take researching some of these videos. I tried so hard to find me something that points to Julio being the top WR because Dirk Koetter coming back. I looked at all the per game numbers, usage in the RZ, 10Z, the only discrepancy was the number of deep touchdowns Julio scores w. vs. w/o Koetter as the OC. RZ and 10Z usage and volume were nearly identical in the three years that Koetter was OC in ATL (12-14), so were the number of deep targets, % of his overall targets that were deep, etc. Turns out just a few more luckily turned into TDs with Koetter than without. So, more of the same from Julio in 2019.
Odell Beckham, my concerns for him have absolutely nothing to do with his play, I acknolwedge he has WR1 overall upside, no doubt, injuries are more of a concern for me. His history is concerning, to say the least:
I like to be a bit more risk averse in the early rounds of seasonal leagues. That website I pulled up for player props had him at 89.5, 1150, 9 (-115). If you use those numbers as projections, that's almost 214 FPs in half PPR, that makes him the WR10 last year, and WR17 in PPG. Though, if he plays a full 16, I'd probably take the over on all of those. Risk of injury, new QB, offense, home needs to be factored in.
I'm sure I'll take a lot of heat for this but I'm smashing the cop button on JuJu over Michael Thomas all day in 2019. I've talked endlessly about JuJu for this upcoming year - literally any point you making about JuJu "regressing" I'm able to counter. "Double-teams" which happen at a rate of 8% at the absolute most in the NFL now that AB is gone. Best stats were in games without AB, and while playing on the outside. Sure, safeties will play over the top, but he's not a burner, that's not his game. Top 2 in YAC in both years in the NFL, he makes plays after the catch. He was tackled five times inside the two-yard line last year. That 7 TD number is going up. James Conner also took more GL carries last year then Le'Veon Bell did combined over the last three season he played in PIT. Will be there less volume in the passing game overall? Probably, but people act as if this is about to go from being the most pass-heavy offense in the NFL, to the least. Like, at worst, they'll be middle of the pack, and Ben will attempt but 169 targets literally just left, JuJu will be fine. Last year they threw on 68% of their plays, an outlier for them, they're typically around 60% in almost all of the last five years. They typically run about 65 plays/game on average over that time span of five years, so their normal year is about 625 pass attempts which is good for top-3 in nearly every season. So you can predict volume to come down, sure, but we have a very baseline feeling of their pace and overall plays, which is still very pass heavy if they go back to their average. 625 attempts - last year juju saw 24% of the targets here, I think it's safe to say that % goes up in 2019 with antonio brown gone right? If he jumps up the 27% which is where most high-end WR1s finish, if not higher, we're looking at an easy 170 targets for JuJu, with pass volume decrease. If you need more in-depth on JuJu, go search my channel for the last WR Rankings video I did and you'll find it there - or you'll find me telling you to do the same thing again in that video lol.
Realistically, guys, this is a Saints offense that doesn't throw the ball deep much anymore - they keep it on the ground and they throw to their running backs. The ranks 28th last year in pass % plays - 54% of their plays were passes, 5th lowest in the NFL, in 2017 they ranked 20th. The problem is too, that they throw the ball to their running backs so damn much - 29% last year, 29% of their passes went to the RBs, 2nd highest rate in the NFL - a year after being at 32% the #1 rate in the NFL. Last year only 13% of their passes went to the TE, only Detroit was lower, now they bring in Jared Cook coming off of a career-year. I don't like this for Michael Thomas for as amazing a WR as he is. The truth of it is this, Thomas was not an elite fantasy WR at all last year after Week 3. Those first three games, he balled, without Ingram, him Kamara the passing game balled.
Was he bad? Of course not. But is he worth 1st round pick? Ahead of JuJu who is going to get 170 targets? No.
All three of these guys have very good, underrated floors. I'm not sure where Antonio Brown or T.Y. Hilton's ceiling really is, tbh. Things could go south in Oakland, quickly, and AB could wind up catching 90 passes for 1,200 yards but scoring like 6 touchdowns - that's not out of his range of outcomes, so he makes me nervous, lot of new variables in his equation.
With D-Jax and Humphries leaving TB, it seems like Mike Evans should go back to being amongst the league-leader in targets like he was before D-Jax came - routinely around 165-170. He'll also reclaim a ton of deep balls from Jackson's plate, something Evans is perennially underrated for, as being one of the best deep-ball WRs in the NFL. Tons of upside for Evans without those two weapons and with Bruce Arians coming in.
T.Y. Hilton, much like my argument for Marlon Mack, I say give me the WR1 in what's arguably going to be the league's best/most efficient offense. These two have five years of chemistry ongoing, Luck's shoulder will be fully healthy, Hilton is just so underrated and for all of the "weapons" they brought in, more noise and real-life football sense then what's actually going to effect Hilton in fantasy. Parris Campbell, the exciting rookie with a lot of buzz, apparently isn't even running with the starters yet, behind Chester Rogers. Funchess is a big RZ threat, which is never where Hilton makes his money anyways. Funchess is not a deep threat, Campbell despite his speed never made deep plays in college either. Last year the Colts completed 7 passes of 40+ yards, Hilton had 6 of them. Those are coming again with arguably the most accurate QB in football. I'll take Hilton at the end of the 3rd over AB at the end of the 2nd all day.
A couple of guys in this group are likely going to finish inside the position's top 8 or six. We have yet to see the ceiling for Diggs, Cooper and Golladay. As long as Thielen, Keenan and Edelman are on the field all year, their floor is extremely appealing.
While Adam Thielen disappeared during the 2H of last year, WR1 over 1H, WR25 over 2H, Stefon Diggs scored 14 FPs or more in 5-of-final-8 games, and was far better/more consistent. The other three games weren't complete duds either like Thielens. But, I still buy into the big, slot WR theory that makes a lot of WRs successful. And Thielen is only this high because I don't really like many WRs after those top 9. While we haven't yet seen Diggs' ceiling, and that's exciting, this offense with Zimmer and Stefanski and a healthy Dalvin Cook is going to lean on the ground game and I don't think we're going to see that ceiling in 2019.
Amari Cooper was great overall when coming over to Dallas last year, but also super volatile. He had his monster games, the 180-yard game, the 217-yard game, but also scored 7.5 FPs or fewer in 6-of-9 games with Dallas. BUT, what brought me back in was how he finished. I can cut him some slack because he was traded mid-year, not an easy thing to do at all, and you saw in the playoffs he picked it up, going 7-106 and then 6-65-1, good mojo going into next year - I like where he's at.
Julian Edelman, I think you could argue he should be higher, he was the WR12 from Weeks 5-17 when he returned from suspension. There's no Gronk, there's no Chris Hogan like that shit matters with N'Keal Harry going in. I think this tier mixes in his lack of big plays and injury risk/age to the consistency he brings.
Brandin Cooks was the easy WR1 here in LA. Say what you want about Robert Woods, Cooks set a career-high with 1,204 receiving yards while missing a game. He caught 80 passes for the second time in his career, but had a four-year TD low (5), lowest since his rookie year, which I expect to bounce back up. Cooks was also the guy in the playoffs. 7-107 in New Orleans, 8-120 on 13 targets in the Super Bowl. I think we saw Cooks break away and become the alpha down the stretch here. Worried about Kupp coming back? Be the opposite of worried.
Cooks is 25 years old. He has four straight 1,100-yard seasons on his resume. His worst statistical season over those last four was in 2017 with a 65-1082-7 year. Last year he saw 7 targets or more in 73% of their games. Cooks' floor is way higher than people think - and I'm not even sure we've seen his ceiling yet. I love Cooks in the 4th round this year.
As stated, Kenny Golladay could be a problem in 2019.
I'm surprised that Kenny G is going this late to be honest, around pick 44, I thought he would be a pretty unanimous breakout pick in 2019 fantasy football. Seems like the public is pretty tempered about Kenny G. He had his breakout of sorts last year, 118 targets, 70 catches, 1.063 yards and 5 TDs in 15 games. He dealt with a lot of inconsistency despite not sharing the field with Marvin Jones or Golden Tate for Detroit. He had 5 busty games, of 6.99 FPs or fewer. He had 0 games where he downright faded the public of 24+. However, he had 7 (almost half) games in the boomin' or cookin' category, between 12-24 points. He had games where he felt like a legit WR1, but games like Arizona in Week 14 when he catches 2-of-4 targets for 5 yards.
He was barely better over the 2H of the year and was actually worse in STD for fantasy. What stands out, however, are those target #'s going from 6.3/game up to 9.3/game over the 2H of the year. Yards go up, receptions go up, TDs don't. TDs, especially receiving TDs for anyone not named Davante Adams are going to be very volatile. And I think that team just shit it down and was absolute trash over the 2H, didn't lead to too many scoring opportunities. They went 2-7 over Kenny G's final 9 games before missing Week 17.
I think this offense is going to be much better/more efficient in 2019. But, they also get Marvin Jones back, so while Golladay is a great downfield threat himself, that will take away some of those opportunities.
We also look at the Darrell Bevell who is coming in as the new OC and runs the ball like that's the only thing he's allowed to do. And they bring in T.J. Hockenson who will take RZ looks away from everyone here, Kerryon, Jones, Golladay. So, as a pure athlete, Golladay is probably more fun to imagine then what he'll be, so I think the public has this one right as a late 4th round pick.
My concerns about A.J. Green are well documented on my channel, as well as Dr. Morses. He will not move any higher on this list for me. He hasn't hit 1,300 receiving yards since 2013. He's coming off of a serious foot injury, he's older. Say what you want about the offensive line, the QB play, his per game numbers are amazing, "if he's healthy" at some point you just gotta get it done I'm gonna consider you a top fantasy WR. Much like Devonta Freeman, everyone else can continue to draft all that value and hypothetical WR1, RB1 upside in round 3 but I'm good.
Robert Woods is awesome but I think he's the one that actually gets hurt from Kupp returning. Whereas Cooks averaged nearly 9 targets/game with Kupp on the field to the 7 without, Woods's target totals dropped when Kupp was there, expectedly. He does go back to playing outside more, which I think benefits him to be honest. He's not a fade by any means, but expecting another top 10 finish from him seems aggressive imo. He doesnt' score much, last year's 6 were the most he's ever caught, in 6 NFL seasons. But, he does have an awesome lowkey rushing floor. They give him end-arounds nearly every week. It was a lot of fun watching that as a Woods owner lol. He added nearly 160 yards on the ground and a TD there. He's not exciting, but he's high-floor player. After Week 1, Woods scored 9.5+ fantasy points in every game but 1. He is the 5-70 gawd.
Another guy we have to wait on with Tyreek Hill, I'm super curious what your guys' projections for Watkins would be, let's see Hill misses all of 2019, Watkins plays the full 16. This is a fact, what are his projections? I would honestly still only have him at like 70-75 catches, 1,100-1200 yards and 9 touchdowns. Which are great, but I also don't think he has top 5 ceiling even if Hill misses major time. So let me know what you would peg Watkins as.
For the second time this video, I will preface by saying that my feelings on this Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver are well documented on my channel. I break Tyler Boyd down in depth in this video (point to top right). I'm a really big fan of Boyd this year, as another high-floor player. There were a lot of things that could have gone wrong for Boyd, or could've been made out to be excuses, but the 24-year old breaks out for 76 catches, 1,028 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns while playing in only 14 games. He did it in a terrible offense, 9th fewest passing yards/game, ranking bottom 5 in snaps, plays/game, bottom half in scoring overall, Andy Dalton banged missing five games. A.J. Green missed half the year, so you might assume that's why his stats were escalated, fake news:
Boyd was even better with Green on the field. Boyd is one of those longer slot WRs again we see have so much success in the NFL these days like Thielen, JuJu, Cooper Kupp, Michael Thomas, etc.
With new HC Zac Taylor coming in from the McVay coaching tree, do we see Boyd become the Cooper Kupp here? Or why not the Robert Woods? Someone that plays both inside and outside. He ran about 71% of his routes from the slot last year, 29% not in the slot. He ranked 19th among all NFL WRs in air yards, so sure he is a slot WR but still getting throws downfield, 16th in YAC, can make plays, 54% contested catch rate which is good, he has strong hands, his target quality rating per PP was 67th number 8 in the NFL in QB Rating When Targeted, the guy is good. And I think he's in a better situation then people realize, a phenomenal WR3, or flex play who not only gives you the floor because of the number of targets he'll naturally get playing from the slot, but he also had individual game lines of:
The guy has a legit weekly ceiling that can't be ignored. He has as many games of at least 17 half ppr fantasy points as JuJu did, and had more than robert woods, keenan allen, golladay, edelman, t.y. hilton, tyler lockett.
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